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‘Monster Hunter Rise’ Blends the Best of Feudal Japanese Culture

The residents of Kamura who slay the dangerous monsters, known as the Hunters, have ninja-inspired outfits as their default starting gear, which can then be replaced with a variety of armor created from the carved parts of defeated monsters. Hunters have kunai and shuriken, which are small sharp throwing weapons used by ninjas, strapped to their outfits. Capcom included ninja design elements into the world of Rise because the team thought the concept would be easy to understand, since ninjas are well known globally through manga and anime.

Reinventing Travel and Food

The ninja motif extends to the traversal in Monster Hunter Rise as well. One of the biggest aspects of the game is its verticality. Hunters are equipped with Wirebugs, which can be used to propel them forward, initiate wall jumping, and suspend themselves in midair. This type of movement is popular in eastern media. For example, From Software’s 2019 title Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice embraced verticality by allowing players to scale large buildings—a departure from the studio’s other titles such as Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Additionally, Sekiro’s main character, Wolf, has a grappling hook similar to the Hunters’ Wirebugs in Rise. Ninjas are known for being quick, “so we added some nimble motion to make for fun actions, such as wall running and Wirebug moves,” says Ichinose.

Another method of travel in the game is the new Palamute canines. Hunters can ride them across the vast and open battlegrounds to catch up to monsters without using up any stamina. Dogs have long been a part of Japanese culture in the real world and have been good hunting partners—not only in Japan. The Akita, for example, guarded royalty in feudal Japan and also helped track down wild prey. The very popular Shiba Inu breed can also drive away smaller animals and hunt wild boar, but now are known primarily in Japan as great companion pets. Ichinose adds that the “Palamutes introduced in Rise are canine companions, so we’ve incorporated hunting dog elements, plus they are reliable buddies who will support your hunt together with Palicoes.”

The Palico felines, first introduced in Monster Hunter: World, return in Rise as well. They can fulfill a variety of support roles during battle, but perhaps they’re best known for their extreme showiness in the kitchen. In Kamura Village, there are a lot of Japanese foods around, such as mochi, candy apples, and onigiri. Palicos can be seen pounding the mochi, which is then used in dango recipes (sweet rice dumplings popular in Japanese cuisine).

Food is a big part of the gameplay and the overall worldbuilding in Monster Hunter Rise. In the kitchen area, players can select up to three pieces of dango. Each piece provides a buff for the Hunter, be it extra resistance to certain elements like fire and electric damage, or faster HP recovery when drinking a potion.

In contrast to the extravagant multicourse meals that players would scarf down in Monster Hunter: World, which included foods like steak and vegetables, dangos were chosen in order to streamline the experience in Monster Hunter Rise. “The dangos were a perfect fit, as they are a familiar part of Japanese food culture and can be presented in a variety of flavors and appearances within a single menu,” Ichinose explains. The team wanted to keep the system simple and easier to understand, so the mechanism of activating stat boosts and skill effects by combining different types of food from World was removed.

The Monsters Are Based on Japanese Yokai and Oni

When it comes to the actual monsters, Monster Hunter Rise doesn’t disappoint. The new monsters introduced in this entry are inspired by oni and yokai, which are demons and spirits, respectively, in Japanese folklore. For example, the flagship monster, Magnamalo, has a face that resembles a samurai’s men-yoroi face mask. Ichinose says that Magnamalo includes elements from ghosts of armored warriors, devilish fire, and a motif of tigers, along with purple gas rising from its body from eating other monsters.

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